Gear from hikers is leaking toxic “forever chemicals” into the most beautiful, remote places on Earth. Demand these companies do better!

  • by: Care2 Team
  • recipient: Patagonia and the North Face

Standing at nearly 30,000 feet at its peak, Mount Everest is the tallest mountain on Earth. Such an astonishing environmental wonder has become a household name over the years, inspiring awe and curiosity in the natural world that is too far from human reach -- for some.

For almost 70 years, Mount Everest has drawn mountaineers from all over the world to prove their grit and love for the outdoors in a climb to the top. While it's still a treacherous journey to this day, modern technology and experience has made the climb possible for more and more climbers. But with these crowds of hikers come other less welcome additions to the mountain, like garbage, human excrement, and something leaking off of hikers' gear that scientists call "forever chemicals" because they never, ever break down -- and they're found everywhere, in our environment, in animals, and even in our blood. 

Researchers found alarming levels of these forever chemicals on the summits of Everest, meaning if they could reach such an unattainable peak, no other part of our planet is safe.

Sign the petition demanding that gear makers Patagonia and the North Face completely discontinue the use of toxic "forever chemicals," or PFAS, in their products!

PFAS are synthetic chemicals that were developed in the 1940s to make products resistant to "heat, oil, stains, grease, and water." Think those non-stick pans in your kitchen, or that miraculously stain-resistant rug you saw in a commercial. Or, say, those waterproof hiking boots that keep your feet cozy, dry, and warm even in the harshest of conditions. 

But as handy as these product improvements are, they come at a cost -- PFAS never break down, and as they linger in our environment, they enter the food chain through water or food sources. Scientists say that all signs point to every person in the U.S. having at least one type of PFA in their blood -- and since they never break down, our PFA levels are only ever rising, and often lead to horrific health outcomes.

Certain types of cancer, autoimmune diseases, changes in liver enzymes, birth defects, decreased vaccine efficacy in children, and more have all been linked to PFAS. They are so terrible for us and our environment that they were banned for manufacture in the U.S. -- but regulations still remain lax, and the chemicals and their products can still be manufactured elsewhere and imported. 

The water-resistant property that PFAS lend have been important to the outdoor gear industry, allowing hikers on the top of Everest, or in the depths of rainy forests, or trekking through shallow streams and rivers, to stay dry and safe. Even this industry recognized the danger of PFAS and in 2015, major retailers Patagonia and the North Face announced that they would be phasing out the toxic chemicals. But to this day in 2021, many, many of their products still contain PFAS, claiming there are not good enough alternatives yet -- even though companies like Páramo have completely eliminated them through a combination of degradable coating materials and directional engineering that makes moisture glide right off. Companies like Patagonia and the North Face know their customers love the environment, and mainly market to them about sustainability and protecting the earth -- so why would they still be using these "forever chemicals" in the gear that people use to navigate this beautiful world?

One of Patagonia's core values listed on their website is to "cause no unnecessary harm." The North Face claims that part of its fundamental mission is to "support the preservation of the outdoors." 

Tell them to prove it. Sign the petition demanding that Patagonia and the North Face truly eliminate all Earth-harming, human-killing, animal-poisoning PFAS from their products!

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